By the time I finished the rite for the dead, I was reeling and 2nd Amitzas had regained his balance, his control of the situation. He was obviously caught off guard by having me catch him – too late, too late!—in the act of removing Binshala from our company.
“Rest she in Selestialis,” Kyriala said softly after I finished speaking. “Where the innocent dwell in peace.”
I caught the gesture from 2nd Amitzas at the doorway and 2nd Ilesias and 2nd Matthas moved in to grab my arms on either side. Their wives came to stand with Inensa who was at Kyriala’s elbow. They think she’s out of control enough to need three women to restrain her?
“For direct disobedience, Spark of the Sun’s Ray, and for defiance of your honoured guardian you will have another bead of Obedience.”
Kyriala stared at him, then looked at me, at Binshala laid out for her grave and turned back to him. “First Second Mahid! You cannot be serious! He did what was right!”
2nd Amitzas ignored her and spoke straight to Inensa. “Control the girl, she is obviously hysterical.” And the women took hold of her as if she were a wild animal liable to bite, pulling her toward the door.
I tugged against the Mahid’s restraining hands and found them like iron bands. They held me still. “2nd Amitzas Mahid… I warned you. I warn you a second time. Leave her alone!”
She was crying now, and crying “Leave him alone, he doesn’t deserve obedience for giving his nurse her death rites! He doesn’t, he doesn’t!”
Gannara was on his feet, Ailadas holding onto his elbow, whispering something frantically in his ear and he wrenched loose and yelled… yelled at 2nd Amitzas. “You leave them alone! They loved her! He did what was right! You heartless black-clad murdering stone-faced Hayel-spawn!”
“Shefen-kas, be silent!” I yelled trying to cover what Gannara was saying, hauling frantically on the Mahid hands holding me. He’ll kill him. He’ll just kill him. No. Gods no!
“What did the worm say?” 2nd Amitzas’s voice was very quiet and there was a smile in it that maked my heart sink. Kyriala was weeping, screaming, and trying to say something, Inensa clamped a hand over her mouth as they pulled her past her husband, struggling.
Looking every inch like an unbroken Chevenga, Gannara stood in front of 2nd Amitzas glaring straight into his eyes. “Go fik yourself, asshole.”
2nd Amitzas’s strike was much harder than the slap he gave Kyriala, his fist hammered Gannara onto the ground half conscious. “NO!” I have to pull his attention away from Gannara, he’ll kill him, he’ll just kill him….
“First Second, touch him and when I ascend I’ll kill you! This isn’t wise, it isn’t smart! This isn’t teaching me the way my father should have been taught!”
He wheeled away from Gannara on the floor, oh thank you Ancestors, and grabbed my chin. “Does the Spark of the Sun’s Ray really think I care if he hates me, as long as he learns? Unjustly kill me for doing my duty?” He smiled, truly smiled. “If the Spark of the Sun’s Ray learns that kind of ruthlessness then my death will be my duty, won’t it?” He shook me slightly. “Of course for that to happen the Spark of the Sun’s Ray must succeed, hmm? And thus become the Ravening Sun itself, to burn the vileness out of the Crystal Throne and the city itself and all the Empire.” He dropped my chin, wiping his glove off with his other hand, scrubbing away thoughts of defiance.
He stepped over Gannara as he left the room. “The Mirror of the Ineffable Light receives one dose of Female’s Obedience, three beads of Male’s Obedience for the slave. Two for the Spark. Bury the woman.”
They dragged me out first, 4th Boras hauling Gannara up by one arm. “I will require his attendance afterwards, Mahid,” I yelled back over my shoulder. “I require his continued service, Mahid.” Three beads… that could kill him.” 2nd Amitzas was long gone and I receive no answer from the other Mahid, of course.
The idea of enduring two beads was enough to weaken my knees and turn my guts to water but I made it to my bed and managed to strip. The Mahid pulled the mattress off the bed this time, padding the slats with a single blanket before they tied me down. I knew. This time I knew what waited for me on the other side of the syringe and I couldn’t make myself lie down. I froze, shaking, even as Gannara began to scream from the cell next to mine.
2nd Amitzas came in, to find me standing, shaking, I couldn’t stop shaking. “You will learn to be Obedient to your elders and teachers, Spark of the Sun’s Ray.” I nodded a shaky yes. I couldn’t make my voice work. He must have motioned to them because they seized me. I started to scream even before the needle went in. I couldn’t help it. The idea, the fluid in the needle was enough to set me off.
Two beads. I hate you 2nd Amitzas Mahid. This pain is my hatred… and then the torment grew too big for thoughts, too big for my body. I was no longer myself, but only agony with no awareness of anything but it.
When I came back to myself enough to hate again, I flinched and cringed at every broken shriek from Gannara. 2nd Amitzas stood over me and I wondered if he had watched me, every moment while I was under the influence. You dogmother of the Ten Gods. You misbegotten reflection of the fat man’s madness, shenned out of a corrupt body. I closed my eyes so my thoughts could not be seen in them.
“It is time for the morning meal, Spark of the Sun’s Ray.” He said as if nothing untoward had happened. “Because of awkward circumstances your Ritual of Ascension practice and your war-training will be offset. This morning, we shall have formal breakfast. You have a half bead to get cleaned up. I will see you in the rectory then.”
2nd Ilesias had been unstrapping me this whole time. I managed to sit up and spit out the gag. I regarded it almost distantly. “Yes, my most honoured guardian. This gag is all but unusable now. I have almost bitten through it.”
If I had been quicker. If I had only come up with an escape plan before now, Binshala wouldn’t be dead. If I had just seen that it was urgent. Gannara and Kyriala wouldn’t have suffered this. All of it. For my sake. For my sake. For my vile sake. I could let the tears flow because they’d be seen as part of the Obedience wearing off.
He took it out of my hands and examined it. “Best it not be needed again. But you are quite correct Spark.” He threw it into the pile of fouled blankets and straps being gathered up by 6th Nuninibas. “You have a bit of attachment to the slave, hmm boy? Your continued possession of him is really very closely linked with being a biddable student. It would be a shame if your behavior caused his death or permanent injury, would it not?”
Another tearing scream from next door, hardly muffled at all by the stones. I nodded. I’d given 2nd Amitzas the information he needed to control me. He no longer believed the fairy story that I was just using Gannara.
“My wife will assist you getting cleaned up, since your slave is being corrected and your nurse unfortunately dead.”
“Yes, my guardian.” There was nothing else I could say.